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A Dad’s perspective of Hypnobirthing- Mark’s Story

Like many, I knew very little about pregnancy, birthing and babies and had never heard of hypnobirthing prior to attending classes. To say I was initially sceptical about the concept is an understatement but I quickly changed my train of thought on attending a taster session. I’m not entirely sure what it was that changed but I’m confident that hypnobirthing gave me the tools necessary to support my wife Rachel in having a calm and positive birthing experience.

 

For me the journey started prior to attending classes. Finding out that we were expecting our first child was hugely exciting, so much so that I didn’t really consider what I needed to know and what I needed to do in preparation for the arrival of our child. I didn’t realise the extent to which Rachel was anxious about birth, something that I now know many women face as a result of years of media focus on the the negative aspects. This could’ve eaten away and hindered the birthing experience that Rachel desired from the outset. It was during the first hypnobirthing class that the penny dropped and I became aware of my responsibility to be more actively involved.. this wasn’t Rachel’s pregnancy, this was our pregnancy.

 

Hypnobirthing equipped me with a greater level of knowledge about birthing in general. No question was ever a stupid question and I found that if I was unsure about something, no matter how trivial, the other Dads in the group were likely to be unsure as well. This helped me greater support Rachel in the latter stages when we were faced with some special circumstances. I was able to stay calm and work with Rachel and our medical team to make the right decisions for us and our baby. We didn’t always get to the decision that we wanted but we knew that if our desires were to be challenged, it would be for the good of our baby.

 

Hypnobirthing enabled me to have a positive impact on our pregnancy throughout the duration of our gestation period but most importantly 30 minutes before Sebastian was born when Rachel needed some additional support with her breathing and pushing. Faced with some discomfort, Rachel started to panic and the Consultant was keen to perform an instrumental delivery, something that we wanted to avoid in our birthing preferences. I knew from our classes that if needed, additional support may be required but that breathing techniques could and should be used first. I was able to calmly communicate with the Consultant whilst supporting Rachel with her breathing and pushing techniques which resulted in Seb being born without the need for intervention. Without prior knowledge of these techniques, Seb would’ve been born in much different circumstances.

 

Finally, hypnobirthing armed Rachel and I with a level of empowerment that would’ve been impossible without attending classes. We were able to ask questions and ensure the decisions made over the duration of our pregnancy suited us and our baby. Most notably in putting together our birthing preferences, some of which were very personal to us and not necessarily in keeping with the traditional direction the NHS usually use. I made our birthing preferences sheet personal to Rachel and I by including some photographs of us and our pets so that our Midwives and Consultants could have a better understanding of who we were. This doubled up as a great comfort to Rachel when she started to miss her home comforts. All midwives involved in the delivery of Seb commented on our birthing preferences document filling us both with confidence that our preferences would be considered where possible.

 

Whilst these aspects stand out as most insightful for me, the greatest aid to me was the understanding that it was ok for unforeseen circumstances to challenge our birth preferences. Hypnobirthing was never about doing sufficient preparation to guarantee a predefined set of outcomes, it was more about using hypnobirthing techniques to overcome challenges and still achieve a positive outcome in calm surroundings. I found that even though we weren’t able to follow most of our birthing preferences, hypnobirthing gave us the knowledge and unity needed to remain calm even though special circumstances arose.

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Rachel’s Positive Induction Story

Over the course of my hypnobirthing journey, I had a clear vision of the birth that I wanted to experience which was a calm and relaxed water birth without pain relief at our local midwife led unit where I was also born.

I spent a lot of time watching videos of hypnobirths and visualising the experience I would have. By the time I was 36 weeks I felt calm and confident about birth and I was looking forward to meeting my baby.

Unfortunately at 36 weeks my birth plan changed due to a positive group B strep result. Whilst I had no other complications I was now deemed high risk and would need to give birth on a consultant led unit. At that point the use of water as pain relief began to look increasingly unlikely.

I was very upset but I used my hypnobirthing affirmations to move past my disappointment. I would have the right birth for me and my baby.

On 9 February, two days before my due date I had a lovely relaxed day. I went to the cinema to watch La La Land and then attended a hypnobirthing relaxation class.

After the class I realised I hadn’t felt my normal pattern of my baby’s movements and decided to be checked at the hospital assessment unit. I was given the all clear but due to the proximity to my due date I was asked to go back to the assessment unit the next day for further monitoring. At this stage I expected to be home by lunchtime and had already arranged to go swimming.

Following my appointment at the assessment unit the recommendation was that I should be induced. My husband Mark, who was also my birth partner, discussed the reasons for the recommended induction and explored other options available to us. I had never wanted to have an overly medicalised birth and had always felt concerned about an induction.

After gaining all the relevant information we felt comfortable and agreed to proceed with the induction late on 10th February at which point Mark was sent home for some rest. We were informed that inductions often take a couple of days to get going. Five hours later I awoke with stomach pains which I guessed might be mild surges. I managed to breath through the pains using the surge breathing for about an hour. At this point the surges were becoming increasingly frequent and too intense for me to manage on my own.

My midwife examined me and I was having six surges every ten minutes as a result of the induction drugs causing hyper stimulation. An hour later, at 6am, I was 5cm dilated at which point Mark was called and I was moved to a delivery room.

My surges were so frequent and intense I was really struggling to keep focused on my breathing and I felt myself beginning to panic.

Luckily Mark arrived 20 minutes later and this gave me a huge boost. By this point I was also fully dilated and ready to breath my baby out. Mark was able to get me refocused on my breathing and helped me into an optimal position to birth my baby.

Unfortunately at this point some special circumstances arose and it became imperative for my baby to be born quickly. The doctor prepared Mark and I for an instrumental delivery. Mark was aware this was not something I wanted so he worked with the doctor and myself to give me a chance to breath my baby out naturally.

It worked and at 6.59am on my due date Sebastian Matthew Wilson was born naturally without pain relief which was exactly what I wanted from the outset.

Although my experience was difficult and intense and very far removed from the calm birth I had planned and wanted, Mark and I managed to use the techniques from hypnobirthing to remain in control and achieve a natural positive birth.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to say how fantastic the staff at Heartlands hospital were. Both before and after Seb’s birth they offered me so much support and were respectful of my preferences.

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Woody’s Unplanned Homebirth!

I was getting fed up as I neared a week overdue. I saw the midwife on Tuesday morning and politely declined a sweep or induction as deep down I knew that baby would come when ready and not when everyone else told me…I hated the pressure of being overdue again, but kept reminding myself that we weren’t quite ready.
I went for a long walk on Tuesday and bounced on the ball for hours practising my breathing. I was getting a few mild pains but I didn’t think much of it. By about 9pm that evening I was getting more discomfort and braxton hicks but nothing major so I watched a nice film and went to sleep listening to affirmations.

I woke at 1.30am with a definite surge but managed to breathe through it fine. More surges started soon after but I was managing them really well just using surge breathing and listening to the affirmations and I couldn’t believe how much it helped.
I really felt like I was breathing so much oxygen into my abdomen and that it completely changed the way I experienced the sensations (compared to my previous birth experience). Tony, my husband, was due to take Eva (our daughter) to the childminder at 8, but by about 7.20 I suggested maybe we ask the childminder to pick Eva up for us as I felt I couldn’t let Tony leave… She arrived to collect Eva at 7.45 and then after another two very big surges we decided it was definitely time to get to Solihull Hospital.

I took one step down the stairs and had the biggest surge I have ever experienced and my waters gushed everywhere and suddenly I had a huge and uncontrollable urge to push! I put my hand down my leggings and could feel his head starting to emerge!

Tony called an ambulance and somehow managed to carry me back up the stairs and into our bedroom where I got on all fours on the rug. Two paramedics (neither of which had ever delivered a baby!) arrived and said we needed to go to hospital.  I (not very politely at all) told them that there was no way I was moving!

Within 5 mins the head was out and then his body followed a few minutes after. Tony helped to deliver him and cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating. It was very intense at the end, and I definitely wasn’t quiet (our poor neighbours must have got a fright!) but I was so glad that I managed it and that everything was OK.

It took about 40 minutes for the placenta to come out, which was actually the worst bit because I was really struggling to hold him or do anything because the surges were still so strong. When it finally came out we were taken to Solihull Hospital where I had some stitches and we both got checked over. I was in a bit of shock (all a little too quick) and we ended up staying the night which was nice.
In retrospect, I should have really gone to the hospital at about 6am as I had started to really moan through the surges without being able to stop the noise and I sensed that something had changed, but as I was still coping so well I thought I would carry on for a bit longer.
My lovely cream John Lewis rug will never be the same again, but it was all worth it. Edward, (Woody to us) was born at 41+8 and 7lb15, exactly when he was ready!
The breathing techniques helped so much to keep me in control so thank you for everything!

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Harper Rose’s Birth Story

Harper Rose’s Birth Story

Harper was one week, one day overdue when I went into labour on Saturday 28th January and since week 38 I’d been researching every natural induction method possible to find a way of kickstarting my labour. I’d tried everything (except dates!). I was booked in to birth at my local Midwife Led Unit and endeavoured to have a natural birth. Without Hypnobirthing Harper’s birth could have gone several different ways as the events unfolded after the three days following 28th January. That week I’d had two sweeps and both were unsuccessful. I focused on visualisation and affirmations to help me stay positive.

At 1:50am on 28th January I woke to what I now know were early labour surges. I didn’t expect to be in early labour but in hindsight I don’t know how I thought it would just be trapped wind! For every hour from 1:50am I woke and at 7:00am this changed frequency to every half hour. That afternoon my husband, Craig and I went out to keep busy. At 5:00pm I chose to have a nice long candlelit bath whilst listening to my TCBS MP3s and surge breathing. It was lovely and just what I needed. Craig and my Mum tag teamed for a few hours, talking me through my breathing and secretly timing my surges. Once they were fairly intense and at 3 minutes apart Craig suggested we go to the unit if I wanted just to see where things were up to. I agreed and after an hour or so there we came home. Although I was only 1cm dilated at this point Craig and my Mum both remained positive and supportive. The midwife reassured me that my cervix was extremely soft and it was now a matter of being patient and getting through these latent stages of labour, once I was again having more frequent and regular surges I could go back to the unit.

I spent the next 15 hours watching Gavin and Stacey, eating to try and keep my energy levels up, napping between surges, drinking lucozade, having showers to keep as active as possible and also bouncing on my birthing ball. The sensations were not what I expected as I was having the highest intensity in my back so light touch massage wasn’t quite working to soothe this. Craig was doing his best to follow what we’d learnt in our Hypnobirthing sessions including cuddling me, breathing with me, keeping me positive and also reminding me of my birth choices when I started to doubt myself. After 48 hours since my sensations began, I chose to go back to Netherbrook for a second time, the feeling in my back had turned into ‘pain’ as well as the surge sensations I was feeling in my tummy. I needed to find out why my back was in this way as I’d previously been told that baby was back to back but had successfully turned around!

On arriving at Netherbrook I was examined and was 4cm dilated but baby was again in the back to back position, hence the unfortunate pain I was now feeling. We discussed my birth preferences with a lovely midwife who was extremely supportive and I chose to remain at the unit in the bath to see how things would progress. I agreed to a 2nd examination at 6am and I had progressed to 6cm which is when the midwife said I could use the pool now if I wished. I was exhausted and had I known that getting into the pool would cause my surges to slow I wouldn’t have agreed to it. I was so relaxed in the pool and falling asleep between surges which unfortunately caused my body to relax too much.

After a discussion with the midwife and Craig I chose to become more mobile again. I used the birthing ball and Cub to find any position that was comfortable. My MP3s were constantly playing in the background on a loop and my breathing had become a natural part of the process. I think all the practicing I had done had really helped and the midwives couldn’t believe that I was remaining so calm and quiet without pain relief. Unfortunately after two hours I had only dilated another centimetre and the midwife informed me I’d need to be taken to the nearest hospital, Heartlands.

It was at this point that I suddenly changed my thinking. Looking back I don’t know what came over me but at the time I was tired, uncomfortable and just wanted to meet my baby! I’d come so far and at 7cm I wasn’t allowed to stay at Netherbrook or have the water birth I wanted all along. At the time everything just seemed such a waste and I can’t believe I let my mind get the better of me. The midwife was discussing my options with me and suggested that I might need to reconsider my birth preferences and decision of pain relief, she mentioned that I might have a narrow pelvis and therefore a c-section was highly likely. All of these things changed my way of thinking and I weakened due to exhaustion and simply being fed up.

I arrived at Heartlands by blue lighted ambulance with Craig and my Mum following on in our car. I was greeted by the most amazing midwife, she was so warm and welcoming, and even though I said that there was no point in following my birth plan anymore (stubbornness had hit!) she insisted that my Solihull midwife passed over all of this information so she was aware. A doctor came in to speak to me and tell me some of my pain relief options, at this point it was either Epidural or Pethidine. I was thought to be too far for Pethidine so they took my bloods with the intention I could have an epidural as I’d requested (!). I couldn’t understand why my surges weren’t stopping – I now had the mindset I was having an epidural and potential caesarean, I didn’t need the surges anymore!

It was at this point (7cm+) I found gas and air to be my best friend. After a bit of monitoring and a final examination my midwife told me I was 9cm almost 10cm. She also explained that she knew I had a tough few hours with the transfer but it was now time to revert back to my birth plan and back to my calm breathing and thinking. I might not be giving birth in a pool like I’d always wanted but I was going to be giving birth to my baby in the next hour and a half, without pain relief or intervention, what I’d wanted all along.

I spent the next half hour calm breathing and surge breathing when I finally began to feel the need to bear down and meet my baby. My Mum and Craig were amazing, taking me through each surge and helping me breathe with my body. After 45 minutes my baby daughter, Harper Rose made her entrance into the world and onto my chest. It was the most amazing and memorable feeling ever!

The next hour or two that followed Harper’s birth I experienced some special circumstances but thanks to Hypnobirthing I maintained composure and remained very calm to understand what was going on and what the doctors had to do.

I think Hypnobirthing allowed me to remain calm throughout my labour and got me back on the right track even when my birth started to take a negative turn. I had the most amazing birthing partners who were very aware of the experience I wanted. Without Craig I wouldn’t have been able to remain as calm as I did throughout and his constant reminders of positive words and affirmations were lifesavers at the times I was struggling.

Our baby is so content and I put every bit of that down to how calm my birth was. Her heart rate and movements remained consistent throughout, so she was a very happy baby for all three days! I wanted a water birth and now I will never have one due to being high risk but at least I got to try it out during my labour! Water was my lifesaver and pain relief from start to finish, and Harper loves a bath which I’m sure has something to do with this and all the swimming I did!

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Becci’s Positive Birth Story (the birth of Daniel Jnr)

Finally getting to write you my birth story. I had gone over my due date (guess date) and as you know I really wanted a natural birth. I knew time was running out before they would want to interfere and induce me. I had (aswell as my husband Daniel) put a lot of preparation into our birth experience. I had been to antenatal yoga classes every week from 10 weeks, did birthing partner workshop and hypnobirthing classes. I also did perineum massage every night after my bath from 34 weeks.  Me and Daniel both feel it was because of all of this we had such an amazing positive birth experience. We really cant thank you enough, Liz, for everything you taught us, and for reassuring me through any of my fears or worries.

I had reflexology to help encourage my labour to start naturally. I had a session with Julie coming to my house on Wednesday (4days over my due date). Then with midwife Becky at Samuel Johnson Hospital on Sunday (8days over) Becky gave me acupressure points to do 2 or 3 times a day. She also gave me some oils to sniff to help bring on my labour as well as oils to put in bath. I had a 3rd reflexology with Julie on Mon 3rd Oct (9days over). I was doing everything I could to bring my labour on naturally. Drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating lots of pineapple, medjool dates and hot currys , going for long walks daily, hot baths, sex, relaxation, breathing techniques, listening to my hypnobirthing mp3s, Daniel doing soft touch,stroking massage. I was doing my lunges over my ball and hip circles and on my all fours to help my baby be in best position.

My surges started on Thursday 6th October about 6.30pm after a sweep I had at Samuel Johnson at 11.15am at which Becky the midwife said  I was 1cm dilated (I was over the moon, I knew finally things were starting) , went for long walk after. Becky did have to book me in for induction at Burton for 8am next morning, which I wasn’t overly happy about. Becky reassured me that I didn’t have to be induced, but to go and be checked but know I had till midnight Saturday to still go to Samuel Johnson. I was doing my breathing. My hip circles etc Daniel was timing my Surges on his phone app, it said for us to go the hospital. Daniel phoned Samuel Johnson and they recommended I come in.

I went Samuel Johnson Thur 6th Oct at 10,20pm, they got me settled in the pink room, lovely lighting, nice n chilled. After about 20mins I was offered examination to see where I was. I was 1-2cm dilated, my surges had calmed down too, which I knew was common and so did midwife, so she said to relax and made us both a hot chocolate. We stayed an hour and midwife said it was up to us whether we stayed or went home. We decided to go home and try and get some sleep. My surges were 2 every 10-15minutes. I did stay in bed, even though I really didn’t get much sleep,  but I knew I needed to try and rest, reserve my energy ready for the birth. I did my wave breathing through each surge.

I went to Burton Hospital at 8am (Friday 7th October) for my induction appointment.  I was really tired and having to stop  and lean over with every surge, hip circle and breathe through it. They hooked me up to machine to monitor my surges. Wanted to do Vagainal Examination (VE) because they needed to see both dilation and surges to know if I was in established labour. I did question the VE, once understanding why I let her do it. I was 2-3cm dilated, she said she could feel my waters bulging and would be able to easily break them with her fingers and I could have a water birth there. She thought my labour would move along quickly waters had been broken. I said I would rather be able to go SJ. She said I could go home and to not leave it too long to go SJ. So went home had hot bath, which was lovely, helped my surges feel a lot more comfortable, did my breathing, listened to my mp3 and got ready to go SJ.

Got to SJ at 12.30/1. When Daniel called they asked what room we would like, we said the blue room, with birthing pool. When we got there there was a student midwife and another midwife. They got us settled in the room. Did VE and I was 3-4 cm dilated, told waters were bulging, so I was nearly classed as being in established labour. The student midwife was the one who was mainly looking after me, she would come in and check on me and check babies heart beat.

At 3.30pm they were debating/discussing whether it be best I go home and come back when I was further along. Me and Daniel both weren’t happy with this and I said to Daniel “I’m not going home”. The midwife from the night before had said they are not allowed to break your waters because that is classed as a form of induction, but certain midwifes there are happy to augment your waters and to discuss with who was looking after me. The student midwife said no, I asked her to ask the more senior midwife who then came in and said she wouldn’t be happy to do it because how far past my due date I was and how close I was to being officially overdue. My 42 week date was the Saturday. She was worried there would be meconium in my waters,she said there would be a high chance. That came with dangers for baby and I would need to be in a hospital. So I knew I didn’t have to have another VE for them to see my dilation, so I didn’t at that point. Me and Daniel said we were not happy to go home, they said they couldn’t make us, but they made us feel uncomfortable, not welcome to stay, but we were adamant we were not going home.

They said they’d give me an hour till 4.30pm. We told them our concern was I was really tired especially because I hadn’t slept properly since Wednesday night and I wasn’t sure how long I could go on with such low energy, the thought of another night with no sleep was a very worrying thought for me. So they suggested calling Burton Hospital to see if I went there they would break my waters and move things along. Burton said they were short staffed, I could go there but they wouldn’t be able to break my waters until Saturday. So me and Daniel discussed this and decided we were staying put. I allowed them to do a VE at 5pm and I was 4cm, thankfully because I was classed as being in established labour. So I could stay without feeling I couldn’t.

Thankfully they had change over in staff. Mel and Kate come on shift, both very experienced midwifes. They both came in and introduced themselves. Kate was a trained hypnotherapist and was very keen and interested in my hypnobirthing preparation. Both midwives couldn’t believe how quiet and calm I was. All this time I was doing hip circles and figure of 8’s through each contraction. Started leaning over the bath then as it eased stood upright and did figure of eights. In between surges sitting on birthing ball leaning forward or sitting forward resting on chair. Using my different breathing techniques for resting and through my surges. I had a hot bath, my back was aching, Daniel did pressure on back and massage to help my back through my surges, and pulling my pelvis out and back which helped. I had VE at 8pm  I was 6cm. I felt it seemed I was dilating really slowly and I was tired, just not knowing how much longer it would be going on for, just didn’t feel I could face another night with no sleep.

I kept thinking once I get to 10cm I will get the resting stage, that was the only thing helping me get through the tiredness. I kept getting really cold, whole body shivering especially legs shaking even though room was not cold.

I kept feeling like I needed a poo, I went toilet and did birthing breath. At 10.15pm my waters popped on toilet, it was like a water balloon popping. As soon as they went my surges really ramped up. They became really intense and I started making some noises, coming from really deep within, at the back of throat, uncontrollable. They wanted to examine me again, said I was still 6cm and to get on bed and lean over the back of the bed. I could really feel the pressure of the head, I said I can feel head bearing down and that I felt I needed some help with how intense surges were. Daniel carried on with discussion of what my options were. The sounds, deep mooing (animal sounds) totally uncontrollable just like my body was taking over and pushing baby down.

I kept thinking stay open as baby beared down. Midwife discussed pethidine and another drug which affected baby less (cant think what it was called) or gas and air. Daniel said I definitely didn’t want pethidine which he knew from what we had discussed in the build up to the birth. So we agreed on gas and air. I didn’t know how to use it, I would take one little inhale, didn’t feel it was doing anything. I said I feel baby’s head moving down. The Midwife said I still got a couple of hours. Daniel firmly suggested they start filling the pool. He knew from how I was being (the noises I was making and how in the zone I was) that baby was coming very soon. The other midwife Kate showed me how to use the gas air, breathe in and in and in all  the way up to the peak of contraction. I could feel the difference then. The pool was nearly filled and I could get in. Daniel and a midwife helped me in. I literally got in and breathed my baby’s head out and then one more and got baby’s shoulders out. My baby was passed under my legs to me. The midwife had to give baby some oxygen and a bit of a rub, only matter of seconds and he brought back to me in the water. Daniel told me our baby was a boy once in my arms which was so beautiful, such a special moment.

The midwife who was trained in hypnotherapy was really keen on hearing about the hypnobirthing I’d been taught. She said she wished she could of filmed my birth to show to the other midwifes.

Thank you. I truly don’t believe it would have been such a positive enjoyable experience without everything you taught us.

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How To Use Your Children’s Affirmation Cards

Tips to Parents/Carers

What are they??



These cards are designed in a fun way to encourage your child (or children) to foster a positive mind-set in early childhood.  Creating a feeling of self-worth, confidence and gratitude in children can encourage a healthy mental attitude in adulthood and so I hope these cards will have a lasting effect on your child.

My children (age 7 & 9) were instrumental in helping create these cards. From the colours and the graphics to the actual statements used. So you could say these are cards for kids, made by kids (with a little help from Mum!).

The Sciencey bit!

Affirmations work on a particular area of our brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This area keeps us from feeling overwhelmed and allows us to notice what we are interested in or things that are connected with our beliefs and values. The RAS obtains this information from what is stored in the sub-conscious. Humans are wired
to think negatively unfortunately and so much of our ‘self-talk’ will be negative too (I am not good enough, I can’t do this, I can’t do that). Affirmations, when practised regularly, will create neuro-pathways in the brain which in turn will pave the way for a new way of thinking. The more we repeat these statements, the more we believe them. The more we believe them the more the RAS will show us things in our lives to confirm and back up these statements. This, therefore, creates a sense of positivity and good well-being in your child.

These cards are also designed to encourage children to think about the world around them and to take notice of the things that are already great and positive in their lives.

How to use them!

When you first receive the cards, you might want to explore them with your child by spreading them out on a table and talking about the colours and designs etc. Or you might wish to keep the cards as a surprise each day.

When you have a moment, each morning, ask your child to pick a card at random out of the box. I ask my children to do it when they are eating breakfast. I leave the box on the table each morning and it soon becomes a habit to pick one out.

Ask your child to read the card aloud (or if your child isn’t a confident reader feel free to read it with them). Affirmations become powerful the more that you use them. You could ask them to repeat it 3 times each morning. Encourage them to say it louder and with more emphasis each time and have fun with it! You can then ask them what they think the Affirmation means (most of them will mean something different to everyone), how it makes them feel etc. If your child doesn’t want to talk about it or can’t find the words to describe what it means or how it makes them feel, or even if they don’t want to repeat it, that’s fine too. It will all come with practice!

Most of all, I hope your child enjoys using these cards and that they become part of their daily routine.

It would be great to hear how you getting on with them!

Liz x

 

 

 

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Sliding Doors- how can your decisions impact your birth?

hypnobirthing solihull, pregnancy, antenatal classes

Sometimes deciding to do something which is a bit (or a lot) outside of your comfort zone can feel really strange. But what is the impact of NOT getting out of your comfort Zone?

I bet most of you have seen that lovely Rom Com Drama “Sliding Doors” staring Gwyneth Paltrow …where two versions of one person’s life run alongside each other at the same time…and the viewer gets to see both versions of that life… Well let me take you through a little Sliding Doors scenario right now, to help you understand the impact that the decisions you make can have on your life.

In this ‘movie’ Gwynee  isn’t the star.

It’s you.

Let’s give YOU (the heroine in this story) a name. I’m gonna call you Belle*.

One day, Belle, who is 20 weeks pregnant, visits a local Baby & Pregnancy Fair. She has gone with the intention of finding a local yoga class and picking up a few bargains for the baby. Belle notice’s a woman with long, red hair and a friendly face, chatting to some other pregnant women. They are exchanging details and talking quite intently. Intrigued, Belle makes her way towards the lady. The lady introduces herself as, Liz (c’mon- I was always gonna star in my own movie!). Liz begins to talk to Belle about the Antenatal Course she teaches. It’s called Hypnobirthing. Belle is vaguely familiar with the word and so listens to what Liz has to say.

This is the sliding door moment. Belle can either smile politely, declining any further information or she can decide to book onto a course (Liz is running some good offers at this fair!).

The Belle who decides to not to do Hypnobirthing actually says to Liz. “I have a really low pain threshold, all my friends have had horrible birth’s, I am just going to take all the drugs I can and hope for the best. Thanks- Bye!” This Belle walks away and carries on with her pregnancy.  She pushes away the fear, rushing from her job to home and vice versa, trying to sleep at night but struggling due to the anxiety which is beginning to creep in. She hasn’t done any real preparation. She never does get round to doing that yoga class either. Her partner, is a lovely supportive person but doesn’t really know how to help her during her pregnancy or during labour and so he is feeling anxious too.

The big day comes. Labour begins. All those horrible stories from her friends come rushing to her mind in images and words. She thinks “this is going to be so awful and painful…I can’t wait for it to be over”. In response to those thoughts, Belle’s body tense’s up, she holds her breath, grits her teeth and just waits for the contraction to be over. This goes on for what feels like hours when eventually Belle goes into the obstetric led unit at her local hospital. There is no birth centre just a delivery suite environment which Belle had selected because she thought it was the safest option. Belle has never visited this hospital before today and upon entering her new environment, her fear increases and her contractions decrease.

When she is examined, Belle is told that she is 4 cm and can stay in the hospital. Belle feels gutted…it feels like it has taken so long to get to 4cm, she doesn’t know how much longer she can go on for… Her contractions have come back but she isn’t making as much progress as the midwives would expect. The doctor wants to speed her labour up and Belle, not knowing there are other options, goes ahead. Her contractions become stronger, the pain is unbearable now, she is so afraid. She asks for pain relief. Again, Belle doesn’t know what her options are or anything about the drugs on offer. When the drug takes effect, she feels the pain dim but not go away. She begins to feel spaced out, not in control and her fear increases.

Eventually, Belle becomes exhausted. The midwives and consultants are concerned and so they intervene. It feels like there are a lot of people in the room, coaching her on when and how to push, the cord is cut immediately, after a minute or two, Belle’s baby girl is passed to her and she feels relieved that her ordeal is now over. She can concentrate on getting to know her baby. But she can’t shake the feeling that it could have been so very different.

Let’s go back to the Sliding Door moment at that Pregnancy and Baby Fair. This Belle has decided to book onto the Hypnobirthing course. The course begins in two weeks and Belle and her husband, Tom, are looking forward to it. Even after the first session Belle begins to feel calmer. She understands the mind/body connection which is something she has never thought about before. In earnest she begins to listen to her MP3’s and looks forward to each weekly Hypnobirthing session. Belle learns how her body works and how to work with it, she learns about what happens during labour and how to help increase the flow of Oxytocin and Endorphins. Tom learns how he can support Belle and he completely understands what his role is. Together they finish the course knowing all this as well how the induction process works and how Hypnobirthing can help in Special Circumstances. Armed with a toolkit of breathing and relaxation techniques Belle and Tom continue their practice at home, listening to the MP3’s daily. Belle feels positive, is enjoying her pregnancy and even looking forward to the birth. Belle and Liz stay in touch throughout the rest of the pregnancy and when Belle has a wobble at 36 weeks, Liz is there to help her get back on track.

The big day arrives. Labour begins. Initially Belle feels anxious but she talks to Tom, practices her Calm breathing and soon she feels calm again. As labour progresses she can’t believe how effective her breathing techniques are and she feels so in control. Her body is relaxed and she visualises her body opening and expanding- doing the job it is designed to do. She runs her favourite affirmation through her mind “Your surges are not stronger than you because they are you”.

Tom has been timing her surges and together they decide it’s time to head to the Birth Centre. Belle spent a lot of time looking at her local hospitals and birth centres and settled upon one which was 20 minutes from her home. When she arrives, the midwife greets her with a smile and notices how calm she is. “Are you doing Hypnobirthing?” she asks. Belle is elated that her midwife seems to know and approve of Hypnobirthing and immediately begins to feel relaxed in her care and in her new environment.

Belle decides she would like a vaginal examination at this stage but that she doesn’t want any more unless it’s necessary. The midwife tells her she is 4cm. Belle is elated! Established labour! The midwife says she will start to fill the birthing pool soon and Belle and Tom settle in. Tom puts up some affirmations and starts to play Belle’s MP3’s. He gets out the aromatherapy oils and then applies some Light Touch Massage to Belle’s back.

Belle starts to “moo” after some time and make some deep throaty noises. Tom feels hopeful that things are progressing quickly! Belle gets in the water and it isn’t long until she feels the need to breathe her baby down. She panics a little as her body starts to push her baby out. It’s a feeling like no other! Tom gets Belle to look him in the eyes and he reassures her. They breathe together and she feels calm again. She takes her time, going with the lead of body and eventually she feels her baby’s head crowning. The midwife encourages her to keep doing what she is doing and Belle takes comfort in that. When the baby’s head is born, Belle knows that it won’t be long until she feels her baby in her arms. Another surge of her body and Belle slowly scoops her baby up in her arms and holds her close to her chest. She feels elated! She did it!!! Her baby looks into her eyes and Belle has never felt love like it. The cord ceases pulsating and Tom cuts it. He feels so proud that they both worked as a team to create such a positive experience.

Belle’s decision NOT to do Hypnobirthing impacted her whole pregnancy. She was frightened, ill-informed and Tom didn’t really feature in her birth experience at all. But the Belle who decided to give Hypnobirthing a chance had a totally different experience. This Belle begins parenthood confidently and feels self-assured.

So, here is your “Sliding Door” moment….

On the 21st January I am holding a FREE Hypnobirthing Taster session. If you want to find out more about how Hypnobirthing can help you prepare positively for labour and birth send me an email to liz@enhanceyourbirth.co.uk and I will book you on!

*Belle is totally fictional

 

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Laura’s Positive Induction Story

Our little girl was due on 5th October – my husband Alex’s birthday!! I had heard wonderful things about hypnobirthing from from colleagues and being the first of my friends to have a baby, I was keen to face birth with a positive and calm outlook!

My birth, however, wasn’t the start that I imagined! My waters broke at 3.30pm on 2nd October (after a sneaky drive thru large Big Mac meal and strawberry milkshake!!) at home, which was a bit of a surprise. I called the hospital and they advised us to come in for an examination as my contractions hadn’t started, but said we would probably be coming home after. We took the bags just in case.

When we arrived both mine and baby’s heart rate were high and we were placed on a monitor for a few hours – during which they noticed several dips in baby’s heartbeat which they thought was cord compression – and advised it would be safest for baby to induce right away, but to be prepared that if her heartbeat continued to fluctuate it may be an emergency C-section.

At this point I will admit I was so frightened- this wasn’t the calm water birth with early labour at home that I had imagined. I hadn’t even brought my birthing ball!

However I knew that I was making the right decision for baby, and consented to the induction. After a brief few hours sleep and a failed pessary, they started the drip at 9.30am on 3 October. I couldn’t move off the bed, strapped onto the heart rate monitor but I listened to my affirmations and Alex kept reminding me to breath deeply and fill my abdomen! I listened to the affirmations but couldn’t relax, there was a woman next door screaming so loudly! So we put on Michael Buble, which wasn’t in the plan but did he trick.

As my contractions got more intense throughout the morning we had the television on and watched a bit of homes under the hammer and this morning until 12.30 when I reached for the gas and air!

Thea Isabelle Clarke was born just a few hours later at 15.07pm, just 1 and a half hours after I had asked for an epidural and was told I was fully dilated!

There were a few moments when the midwives wanted to allow the doctors to intervene. I used my hypnobirthing techniques to visualise her moving down – I was determined to deliver her myself and I did – all 9lbs!

I said to Liz at the start of the course that what I wanted was to feel proud of myself – and I really have never felt prouder. We didn’t have the birth we imagined, but we did it!

Thank you for everything Liz- thanks to you we knew that we could ‘calmly face whatever terms my birthing took’

Xxxxxx

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Screw the birth prep…I’m gonna wing it…

hypnobirthing solihull, pregnancy, antenatal classes“Screw the birth prep…I’m gonna wing it”….

Really?

REALLY?

This (or something similar) I hear quite regularly. From educated, intelligent women.

Women who revised for their GCSE’s, NVQ’s, A Levels, Degrees, Diploma’s so they had the knowledge and information that they needed.

Women who practised driving prior to their test so they could feel confident.

Women who researched for interviews.  Did practice questions and answers so that they were aware of the latest developments within their careers. And knew as much information about the prospective employer as possible.

Women who thought about what they were going to wear on a first date, considered what the atmosphere would be like, how to connect with their beau (lots of batting of eyelashes and fancy knickers etc!).

Yet, when it comes to what is ultimately THE most important moment of their lives…the moment when they they bring their precious baby into the world and begin the life changing process of becoming a parent, they opt for…winging it.

It just doesn’t make sense.

There must be a reason why women choose not to educate themselves about birth.

Why they choose not to practice breathing and relaxation techniques.

Why they don’t consider making an informed choice about where to birth their baby.

Why they don’t think about the environment in which their baby will born.

Could it be fear? Fear of standing out, being different to others. Fear of things not working out as they had planned.

Could it be tunnel vision? We are all so programmed to believe that birth is this horrible experience we have no control over…is it just too hard for people to think it could be better than that? If they think it’s going to be awful anyway perhaps there isn’t any point in doing any prep.

Could it be blind faith? Total and utter faith in your body, that it knows what to do…so why do anything?

I’m not sure what the reason is. Maybe there are many. What I do know is that women who spend time preparing for labour and birth using Hypnobirthing have the benefit of;

  • Increasing their knowledge about birth- knowledge is power
  • They find the best place to birth their baby and realise that a hospital birth surrounded by doctors isn’t always the best place for you to give birth (but also that sometimes it is)
  • They take time to connect and bond with their baby. Preparing themselves for parenthood.
  • They feel positive about their upcoming birth and empowered to make decisions.
  • They know their options
  • They know that not every labour sails by without a problem, but they feel confident that they can adapt to whatever may occur
  • Their partners know how to support them because they have been through the classes together.
  • Their partners can advocate and communicate well with care providers

Women who prepare for birth using Hypnobirthing make such massive changes to their mindset and the way they feel about birth, it transforms their pregnancy, birth experience and even impacts their whole lives for the better.

Why wing it? Why chance it? You only get one shot at each birth- so make it the best most positive experience it can possibly be.

Book onto one of my FREE taster sessions (run monthly) or try the  first session of Hypnobirthing for FREE in November. Email liz@enhanceyourbirth.co.uk to find out more.

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Did Bridget Jones have a positive birth?

2009-04-24 11.40.13

Last night I went to see “Bridget Jones’ Baby” and I literally cried with laughter all the way through. I even found the birthy bit funny and actually saw some real benefits to the portrayal of birth within the film. I could bang on about the really negative reflections of birth that I saw and how damaging they can be to women and their birth experiences but I chose to see the positive instead.

It’s a real bug bear of mine to have to watch women in labour on the telly or in films and see what should be the most empowering moment of our lives shown in such a damaging light. We have OBEM inflicted on us every year and then every soap, boxset or film I watch, showing a women in labour, makes me eye roll, shake my head and tut.

So it came as surprise, just how funny and positive I found this film.

Ok, so there were times when Bridget was lying on her back and she did bite down on (one of) her partner’s hands causing him to bleed…

…and yes, she also did some suspect purple pushing…

…and there was some derogatory comments from the Obstetrician…

But other than that- she rocked it (or rather the film producers could have portrayed the birth in a much more negative light).

If this was a real birth I would be wanting to high five Bridget and tell her how incredible she is. No drugs, no intervention, all natural vaginal birth.

During her pregnancy, she and her birth partners attended antenatal classes and learnt massage techniques and how to breathe (the breathing Bridget ended up doing during labour was more likely to cause her to hyperventilate than actually help but still…). Seeing as a ridiculously low number of women don’t even attend the FREE antenatal classes that are available from the NHS and by private companies, it was nice to see that Bridget, and her 2 birth companions attended the classes, enjoyed them and learnt a thing or two as well.

In my classes I suggest to the Birth Companion that he/she does WHATEVER is needed by the birthing mother and that they need to be aware that their mind-set will have a massive impact on how Mum feels and responds in labour. So it was good to see Mr Darcy doing whatever he HAD to do to support Bridget which at one point involved carrying her through the streets of London to the hospital because she didn’t want to walk. It was also lovely to see their connection with one another during labour- that is something else I emphasise in my classes. Feeling connected, close and supported  by your partner really helps with the release and flow of the hormones which you need to feel as good as possible in labour and of course to keep your labour progressing.

We didn’t see the baby actually being born (and the birth companions weren’t there for that bit- which was disappointing…something about their favourite pub being burnt down???) but when we get to meet the baby, the empowering glow on Bridget’s face is awesome (you can’t help but smile too) and baby has a nice coat of vernix on it – high 5 to the researchers!!

Of course, there are many ways that this film could have improved upon its portrayal of birth but there were definitely some positives.

Whether you want a Bridget Jones style birth, something much more Zen or perhaps something more organised (!) come along to one of my FREE Hypnobirthing Taster sessions to find out how (oh and definitely check out the film!).

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